(Above: Fiona Katauskas at New Matilda here. Yep, they're still kicking on and there's a lot to kick).
The pond was exceptionally pleased to come across a copy of the Epoch Times in Broadway on a visit to the doctors ...
The pond hadn't seen it for ages and thought it had disappeared from view, and so read it from cover to cover, not for the front page report on Amazon's financial problems, but for page eight's Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party.
Now there are many things you can have a go at the Chinese Communist Party about - the ongoing support of the failed state of North Korea, behaviour in Tibet, activities in the South China Sea, treatment of dissidents at home, and so on and on. But this bit of the Commentaries chose to charge the party with a fifth inherited trait: Espionage.
Say what? You only have to do a Greg Hunt on the word here to remind yourself that espionage has been around for a long, long time, and it's a long bow to suggest the Communists inherited the genetic trait of espionage from the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans ...
Then in the Science and Beyond section, there was a story about a woman, Uttara Huddar speaking a foreign language without learning it, as it was spoken 150 years ago, with the story credited to one Tara MacIsaac.
Now the pond is fascinated by xenoglossy - just the word is preposterous, as you can discover if you Greg Hunt it here - so you can imagine the pond's immense disappointment to come across these caveats:
Uttara Huddar was a woman in India who normally spoke Marathi. While in the hospital undergoing psychiatric treatment, she began manifesting a personality called Sharada, who spoke in Bengali. Stevenson had recordings analysed by Bengali speakers, who disagreed among themselves about the subject's fluency. It cannot be ruled out that the subject may have learned Bengali earlier in life: both she and her father had a long-standing interest in Bengal, her home city had 1% native Bengali speakers, she had read Bengali novels in translation, and she herself had taken lessons in reading Bengali.
Damn it, not so glossy after all, though the pond loved the pitch, which swept the pond back into the world of Rod Serling's Twilight Zone:
The universe is full of mysteries that challenge our current knowledge. In Beyond Science, Epoch Times collects stories about these strange phenomena to stimulate the imagination and open up previously undreamed of possibilities. Are they true? You decide.
Uh huh. In the end, the pond preferred Rod's version:
Narrator: There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.
But why did the pond embark on this intellectual journey? Well the rag is free, and besides there's only so much hagiography and knob polishing of the Murdoch kind that anyone can absorb on a daily basis.
You see, the reptiles are still in a state of Twiggy euphoria, while the Abbott government flinches and cavils:
And they wheeled out the chief knob polisher, the bouffant one, to go about his business:
You could almost imagine the tears trickling down the face of the bouffant one as he hammered away at the keyboard.
Of course that opening splash makes as much sense as someone shedding dinosaur tears while typing Clive Palmer is a compassionate and visionary billionaire who is prepared to spend his own money to set up a political party and incidentally send the reptiles into a foaming frenzy.
The problem of course is that the Liberal party once again set an agent loose to write a report without knowing its conclusions, a very brave step Minister, and it led to some easy shots, like this one from Wayne "New Joisy" Swan (twittering here):
Of course if you can be bothered to step around the lizard paywall to read Shanahan's Visionary zeal a step too far for pollies, it becomes clear that the knob was too hard to polish for even that diligent hagiographer:
Andrew Forrest is a compassionate and visionary billionaire who is prepared to spend his own money to fight slavery overseas as well as discrimination and disadvantage for the “first Australians”.
But given the opportunity to report to the Abbott government on ways to improve indigenous training and education he could not help his entrepreneurial energy and spirit spilling over into a blueprint for Australia’s entire welfare system.
It was never intended to be thus and Forrest’s zeal, fervour and business organisational principles were meant to be concentrated on indigenous job creation and education, where he is proven to be so committed and successful.
Forrest’s strengths and insights as a pioneer in vast mining ventures and business organisation have translated into some fine and viable policy options. But, unable to limit his imagination and desire to make a truly telling impact on indigenous disadvantage, the mining billionaire has overreached and damaged the substance of his report.
By demanding there be no compromise or “cherry picking” on his recommendations, Forrest has hamstrung the politicians whose support and co-operation he is seeking to improve the lot of indigenous workers.
Forrest’s proposal that all welfare recipients — except for aged pensioners and veterans — lose access to all cash as part of income management was well meant but socially and politically unacceptable. There were too many scenarios where the action would seem draconian, unsupportable and even demeaning.
The challenge for Tony Abbott, who will not criticise Forrest, is to rescue the good in this report from the swingeing opposition that the suggestion of a cashless world and no discretionary spending for welfare recipients has engendered.
Forrest is a philanthropist who craves bringing his successful real-world experience to bear on politics but, like many businessmen given similar opportunities, he has politically miscalculated.
Uh huh? So it's all Forrest's fault? Actually, it was the Abbott government that politically miscalculated. Here it was, blaring the good news in its report on its first 100 days of government:
Status: In progress ...
Now Abbott's running or cycling a quick mile from the report he commissioned:
"I suspect that some of the things in the report will be testing for public opinion as it currently stands,' he told reporters in Tasmania.
"Some of the things in the report will run well ahead of any plans that the government currently has." (here)
In short, it was okay when all Forrest was suggesting was constraining and controlling the blacks, but it got out of hand when he suggested the same big brother treatment for whites.
The report is in fact yet another failure of government, a rewarding of pets with an outcome that was entirely predictable in its unpredictable way.
Last month, in the wake of the release of the McClure report, welfare groups warned (forced video at end of link) that increasing controls around how people spent their welfare payments could backfire, arguing that existing controls already cost the Commonwealth $1 billion without producing results and stigmatise people on low incomes in the process.
What it also makes clear is the controlling, fascist-inclined attitudes of the big brothers that infest Murdoch la la land.
Remember the reaction of the IPA when it came to then Mayor Michael Bloomberg's feeble attempt to do something about debilitating restrictions on soda. Tim "motormouth" Wilson was all over it in Soda ban falls flat (warning, sinister IPA browser check at end of this link):
There are boundaries to the arbitrary and endless extent that government can keep people safe and healthy. The consequences of obesity are serious. But that doesn’t automatically result in government having the responsibility to address them, or even that they are the best to do so.
And so on and so endlessly forth. It was filed under the tag "nanny state" and the pond can't remember the number of times the reptiles have routinely berated the Labor party, greenies and anyone else in earshot about their nanny state tendencies.
Yet this very day the reptiles have delivered an epic sermon completely and utterly in favour of the nanny state:
Tony Abbott believes the proposals put forward by Andrew Forrest in his review of indigenous welfare and employment are “bold, ambitious and brave”. As Patricia Karvelas first detailed yesterday, Mr Forrest’s report, Creating Parity, calls for up to 2.5 million working-age welfare recipients to join a system of income management, run by the banks. In this cashless world, accessed via a Healthy Welfare Card, discretionary spending is controlled and some goods, such as alcohol, are prohibited. That’s a big call. It will encounter a public backlash and may be too hot to handle for the Abbott government, scarred by the bogus fairness debate following May’s budget.
Yet we must not lose sight of the underlying ideal of this prescription: mutual obligation. We have been conditioned by a powerful lobby to always take note of welfare rights. But not enough attention is given to the responsibilities of those receiving income support. At the turn of the century, several key thinkers and policy makers, including Peter Botsman, Noel Pearson and Mark Latham, made major contributions under the Third Way banner of the “enabling state”. Based on experiences gathered in western Sydney, these analysts identified the long-term, corrosive effects of passive welfare. They saw the government’s role as building the capabilities of those receiving benefits, as well as imposing sanctions through a new social contract. As they saw it, and as Mr Forrest has outlined in his report, welfare should be conditional on people learning new skills, educating their children, improving their health, finding jobs and spending taxpayer-funded income on the necessities of life.
Yes, and stop drinking too much soda.
Did anyone at the lizard Oz gag at the notion of wheeling out Mark Latham? On the "enabling state"? Is the "enabling state" the way forward for nanny staters? Oh we weren't talking about a nanny state, we were talking about an enabling state, you know, one that will enable you to stay off the grog, and stop drinking that bloody soda.
Frankly, the pond was gob-smacked. On and on the reptiles rabbited ... in favour of a controlling nanny state ...
If Mr Forrest has gone beyond his initial brief it is because he is committed to a non-discriminatory welfare system, one that deals with disadvantage equally. He also believes that his broad, whole-of-life approach — taking in early childhood development, health, education, employment and housing — must be adopted in full if an entrenched cycle of dependence is to be broken. It is correct for Mr Forrest to draw attention to the responsibilities of parents with children under the age of three, the key period for brain development, and to key issues such as truancy, educational outcomes and distractions to learning.
As well, Mr Forrest seeks better accountability and implementation methods for government health and education programs in the 200 communities he believes must be closely targeted and supported. Technical and skills training would face a major overhaul, as would job services providers. Payments should be linked to real jobs, not program enrolments, Mr Forrest argues, thus dismantling the present “cash barbecue”. Those people leaving remote communities to work would receive enhanced support, such as access to social housing for a time.
The major recommendations of Creating Parity are worth considering. Many of them are backed by strong empirical evidence and innovative thinking. Along with the welfare system review by Patrick McClure, Mr Forrest’s work will inform the Abbott government’s responses. The Prime Minister has declared indigenous advancement is at the centre of his agenda. If Mr Abbott is to achieve his goal within our tight fiscal constraints, bold, ambitious and brave reforms will have to be part of the equation.
But can a reptile rabbit? you ask ...
Well yes, if you accept that anyone who writes about breaking up an entrenched cycle of dependence while proposing an increased and enhanced and controlling cycle of dependence is rabbiting on, though the pond will also accept confused, hypocritical or barking mad.
Or perhaps it's just another case xenoglossy, and the reptiles went to sleep dreaming of talking about free markets and small government, and then woke up speaking fluent Orwell ...
(Below: and so the demonising continues, and more Moir here)